2 top Al Qaeda men arrested, says Faisal

August 04, 2004

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ISLAMABAD: Aug 3: Security agencies have arrested two more key leaders of Al Qaeda, Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat announced at a press conference here on Tuesday.

He said that both the detainees were nationals of African countries and one of them had a reward of millions of dollars on his head.

However, Mr Hayat did not disclose their names or nationalities. "I cannot give you more details about the terror suspects captured in a recent operation in Punjab," he said.

A source in the interior ministry told Dawn that one of the arrested persons was from Egypt and an active member of the Islam bouli group, an Egypt-based terrorist group reportedly involved in the recent assassination attempt on Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz last Friday.

He said the information received during interrogation of another Al Qaeda leader, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, had provided leads about other key elements of the terrorist group hiding in Pakistan.

Mr Hayat said the arrest of two more Al Qaeda leaders was an outcome of the investigation into the attack on Mr Aziz and the arrest of Ghailani. "In addition to Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who carried a bounty amounting to $25 million, we have captured another most-wanted suspect with a bounty running into millions of dollars," he said.

The interior minister termed the recent arrests of Al Qaeda leaders a 'success' of Pakistani law-enforcement agencies. "The arrest of top leaders of Al Qaeda is an evidence of the fact that Pakistan is no more a 'safe heaven' for terrorist,' he said.

Responding to a question, he said he was satisfied with the progress of investigation into last Friday's attack on Mr Aziz. He said there was no deadline for the investigation.

Answering a question about the reported arrest of Muhammad Naeem Khan, believed to be Al Qaeda's computer mastermind, the interior minister said no such person with Al Qaeda link had been arrested.